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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 462 - Feature article
Resident Symbiodinium spp. remained stable within Pocillopora corals following a cold-water stress event off Baja California, Mexico, in 2008. Photos: T. C. LaJeunesse, M. D. Aschaffenburg, D. T. Pettay

McGinley MP, Aschaffenburg MD, Pettay DT, Smith RT, LaJeunesse TC, Warner ME


Symbiodinium spp. in colonies of eastern Pacific Pocillopora spp. are highly stable despite the prevalence of low-abundance background populations


Symbioses between reef-building corals and endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium) are particularly sensitive to environmental stress. Understanding if certain host-symbiont combinations will change (or remain stable) following such stress events is vital to fully comprehend the biological impact of future environmental disturbances. McGinley and co-workers temporally examined both the dominant and background Symbiodinium spp. in Pocillopora colonies bleached and recovered from a cold-water stress event in the Gulf of California. Recovered colonies largely maintained a stable and specific association with the resident Symbiodinium sp., despite the presence of background populations of a second compatible symbiont. This stability suggests that increasing severity in environmental stress will lead to differential mortality of certain host-symbiont combinations, thus reducing the diversity of host-symbiont partnerships.


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